A new report from ETNews claims that Apple is investigating silver nanowire technology to improve touch panels in its much anticipated upcoming 12+-inch iPad:

Apple is planning to apply nano new material on touch panel. By changing ITO-based clear film with silver nano wire (AgNW) material, it plans to raise sense of touch and decrease cost.국내 은나노와이어 Domestic AgNW based touch-screen panel (TSP) industries are getting ready to commercialize the products as soon as possible.

The report, citing sources close to the supply chain, adds that Apple has already requested samples of the tech from LG Display, Samsung Display, Japan Display and others earlier this month.

And it isn’t the first time we’ve heard Apple is experimenting with the technology. The company has a patent for a “Touch Screen Display with Transparent Electrical Shielding Layer” which details an IPS LCD that utilizes “microscopic metal meshes, such as silver nano-wires (AGNW)” as a conducting layer. In the patent, published in January 2014, Apple imagines a display with better power efficiency, a thinner design, and reduced light reflectivity for an iPad. Here’s an excerpt:

Compared to the conventional display, the IPS LCD with a metal mesh coated front polarizer may improve display transmittance and reduce light reflection, while still providing adequate electrical shielding for a capacitative touch panel. The improved light transmittance may enable better power efficiency for the LCD, because less power would be required for the backlight of the LCD due to higher transmittance. The IPS LCD may also be thinner than the conventional display, due to replacement of the conventional thick ITO with a transparent AGNW mesh. The IPS LCD may also reduce the manufacturing complexity of a IPS-type of display by removing one post-cell process, as well as reducing the total reflectivity of the display… FIG. 1A illustrates a perspective view of an electronic device, such as an IPAD.

The flexible nanowire technology, according to today’s ETNews report, could allow for touch panels with flexible displays as well as improved touch sensitivity: “It will be very easy for a resistive touch method that can change the thickness of a line depending on pressure from a fingertip, which can enable a person to draw a picture more delicate.”

Back in February of last year, a report from China Times claimed Apple was looking into using the nanowire touch screen tech for the then yet to be released Apple Watch. Today’s report claims, however, that Apple will first use the technology on its much rumored 12.9-inch iPad that many expect to debut later this year.

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Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.